In these five verses we have seven questions posed by Paul. Questions are a wonderful teaching tool. The teacher asks them to test the knowledge of the students. The instructor gives them to insure the trainee has understood the training. Paul gives them to make sure the Christians to whom he is writing understand what he has said. Let's look at them all:
- A rhetorical question—"What shall we then say to these things?" (v.31)
"These things" refer to what Paul has been saying throughout this chapter. He has said that all of creation and history revolve around God's plan of redemption, that "all things work together for good" for God's people, that God's people will arrive in heaven safely because of God's love for them from eternity. What can be said?
- A royal question—"Who shall be against us?" (v.31b)
This is the first of four questions that begin with the personal pronoun "who." There is a clause prior to the question that reads "if God be for us." The preposition in the original, translated, "if," is better understood "since." This is a royal question because it directs our attention to the King of kings. Since He is for us, who else will prevail?
- A remarkable questions—"How shall he not with him freely give us all things?" (v.32).
If God delivered His Son for you (and He did for all those who will believe), then what is it that He will NOT give to you as it relates to Christ? Will He withhold heaven? No. Will He withhold any gift of grace (faith, repentance, etc . . .)? No. This is why when it comes to your salvation you are in good hands with God.
- A reverent question—"Who shall lay anything to the charge of God's elect?" (v.33)
Sin is never to be taken ligthly. Ever. It is that which placed Christ on a cruel cross. This question should cause us to pause. How does God deal with our sin? He either pours out His wrath for sin on Judgment Day, or He poured it out on Good Friday. A judge is not just if He punishes sin twice. How can a believer be charged again?
- A repetitive question—"Who is he that condemns?" (v.34).
This is very similar to the previous question. Repetition in Scripture is for emphasis. This question and the previous one focus our attention on the heart of the good news. Since God is for us, and delivered to us His Son, "there is no condemnation for us."
- A reflective question—"Who shall separate us from the love of Christ?" (v.35).
Many people have a hard time thinking that God can accept them apart from their performance. In fact, many desire to make something of themselves in God's eyes. "A self-made man has no one to blame but himself." God's love.
- A rough question—"Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword (separate us from the love of Christ)?" (v.35).
We'll pick up here next week, but just remember that outward circumstances do not necessarily communicate the love of God. Suffering is not not evidence of fleeing love.